The Denver Broncos have, in the span of six weeks, transformed themselves from league laughingstock to the bounce-back story of the year.
In no way could anyone could have predicted the turnaround for Sean Payton’s team; not anyone on the NFL Sunday morning shows, not your drunk friend who constantly asks you to pause the game so he can go pee, not anyone.
After five straight wins, though, and a feeling of euphoric confidence, just how sustainable is this streak, and if there is indeed a bump in the road, how does the team react?
It’s interesting to propose such a question, as the Broncos have either been the lowest of the low or highest of the high in terms of game-by-game momentum. One win over the Green Bay Packers was the sole moment in which the team did a complete 180 and started playing winning football. And so far nothing has challenged that.
And as l luck would have it, not only are the Broncos knocking on the doors of playoff land, but the team has already seen the best defenses they will see. The remainder of the schedule, on paper, should not pose any kind of incredible challenge for the offensive side of the ball, who is still fresh off of dominating an elite defense in the Cleveland Browns.
But what about the defense? Give all the credit in the world to Vance Joseph, who should be up for awards this season, but the unit is turning other offenses over at a rate that is very difficult to envision becoming the norm. That’s not to say they still can’t get one or two a game, but the three and four-turnover games aren’t always going to be there.
And the defense will be up against some very efficient offenses in the coming weeks. First, they have to take on the Houston Texans and young rookie phenom C.J. Stroud, who is unlike most QBs the defense has seen this season. They then to Los Angeles to face a Chargers team who is pretty anemic but still has a quality running back in Austin Ekeler and dominant QB in Justin Herbert. The last leg of the three-game road trip takes them to Detroit to face the eight-win, but still somewhat wobbly, Lions led by Jared Goff.
It’s quite different than facing Josh Dobbs and Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The offense, outside of the Browns game, has struggled to put up difference-making points and yardage during the five-game win streak, so they will have to build on what took place in Cleveland and take it to an even higher level should the defense struggle.
And what if any of the next three games produces a loss? How does the team bounce back. They showed incredible resiliency in resurrecting the seemingly dead season, but they are riding a bit of a high. If they get hit with a big wave, is it simply going to wobble the ship and be quickly straightened out, or is it going to capsize it?
Sometimes, too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing, and it’s been a while since the Broncos were humbled. If that moment comes in the near future, especially with the playoffs looming, how the team responds could very well dictate the rest of the season, of which there is not much left.
It remains incredible that this is even subject matter given what the team looked a month and a half ago, though.
In all likelihood, most probably expected by around this time this site would be nothing but repetitive mock drafts and QB prospect profiles, and yet, if nothing short of a miracle, the talk is that of the playoffs and how the team needs to hold on to its current mental state and remain unshaken, even in the event of a loss.
On paper, this team is looking very, very much more likely to be in the postseason. While the bounce back of the team has been a terrific story, appearing in said postseason would be a much more pleasing ending than, to say, begin to unravel now.
Therefore, while it’s impossible to ask the team to play perfect football (or at least for them to respond perfectly each week), all eyes will be watching just how this team, now facing less-than-formidable defenses, better QB play, and three straight games away from Denver, is going to finish the season.
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